Samuel Beckett Quotes
- Mini Bio
- Name: Samuel Barclay Beckett
- Born: 13th April 1906, Foxrock, Dublin, Ireland
- Died: 22nd December 1989, Paris, France
- Alma mater: Trinity College Dublin
- Occupation: Novelist, playwright and poet
- Notable achievements: The French government awarded him the Croix de guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance medals for his work in fighting the Nazis for the French resistance
- Pen name: Andrew Belis
- Awards: He was awarded the 1969 Nobel prize for literature
- Sport: While at university he represented Trinity College Dublin in a cricket match against Northamptonshire thus making him the only Nobel Laureate to ever play first class cricket
- Literary apprenticeship: In the late 1920's Beckett assisted James Joyce by carrying out research for his novel Finnegans Wake
- Trivia: In 1938 he was stabbed in the chest by a notorious Paris pimp and suffered a perforated lung, during his hospitalisation an old tennis acquaintance Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil frequently visited and they subsequently fell in love and eventually married
"Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order"
"In my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of"
"James Joyce was a synthesiser, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyser, trying to leave out as much as I can"
"The more Joyce knew the more he could. He’s tending toward omnipotence as an artist. I’m working with impotence, ignorance"
"Tears, that could be the tone, if they weren't so easy, the true tone and tenor at last"
"I became aware of my own folly. Only then did I begin to write the things I feel"
"I see it everywhere. The human spirit is on its knees. Everything is on fire"
"Dear incomprehension, it’s thanks to you I’ll be myself, in the end"
"What was God doing with Himself before the Creation?"
"My mistakes are my life"
"Don’t wait to be hunted to hide"
"The whisky bears a grudge against the decanter"
"Against the charitable gesture there is no defence"
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better"
"Don't look for meaning in the words. Listen to the silences"
"The dead die hard, they are trespassers on the beyond, they must take the place as they find it"
"Who knows what the ostrich sees in the sand"
"The end is in the beginning and yet you go on"
"The day that you die will be like any other day...only shorter"
"I am dead and have no feelings that are human"
"Two in distress make sorrow less"
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Samuel Beckett Biography
Samuel Beckett was one of a long line of literary geniuses that hailed from Ireland and made their mark on the world on both the stage and the page. Drawing his early influences from the Italian poet Dante and the French philosopher René Descartes he was further inspired by another Irish literary legend in James Joyce when he befriended and worked for him in the late 1920's.
The first part of Beckett's life was about discovering himself and determining his literary style. He served a literary apprenticeship under the wing of James Joyce in the late 1920's as he assisted him by carrying out research for his novel Finnegans Wake, it was not until after WWII that he finally cast off the shadow of Joyce and delved into the abstraction phase of his creative writing.
Fame beckoned during the 1950's with the Molloy trilogy of novels and the highly successful play "Waiting For Godot". Beckett always distanced himself from fame and press attention and even when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1969 he declined to receive it personally and instead sent his publisher on his behalf.
In his later years his work took on a more minimalist style with a brevity in words being a key component which he emphasised by being quoted as saying:
"Don't look for meaning in the words. Listen to the silences".
Although he was a private man an intriguing insight into his life and thinking was revealed when four volumes of his private letters were published where he went into some detail describing the thought processes behind his writings. Great authors often make great one liners and he was no exception, so here is my compilation of 21 of the best Samuel Beckett quotes
Quotes About Samuel Beckett
The Dutch painter Bram van Velde was inspired to say:
"This friendship with Beckett is the most important experience in my life. He was fully alive for my way of working. What he could express in words, I did with my paintings"
The novelist Anthony Burgess posed this conundrum:
"Beckett does not believe in God, though he seems to imply that God has committed an unforgivable sin by not existing"
The playwright Tom Stoppard was quoted as saying:
"The prospect of reading Beckett's letters quickens the blood like no other's, and one must hope to stay alive until the fourth volume is safely delivered"
The Irish literary critic Vivian Mercier made this observation:
"Though Godot contains all the wit and whimsicality of Murphy (minus a great deal of the old pedantry), it has one new ingredient - humanity .... Its author has achieved a theoretical impossibility - a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats"